Transforming Work with Sophie Wade-logo

Transforming Work with Sophie Wade

Business & Economics Podcasts

Sophie addresses current business conditions and explores ways to navigate the disruption. She shares informative insights and interviewing leading innovators who are providing or benefiting from transformative solutions that will allow companies to emerge with sustainable models, mindsets, and business practices. Find out how to transition to more effective, productive, and supportive new ways of working—across locations, generations, and platforms—as we harness these challenging circumstances to drive significant, multidimensional changes in all our working lives.


United States


Sophie addresses current business conditions and explores ways to navigate the disruption. She shares informative insights and interviewing leading innovators who are providing or benefiting from transformative solutions that will allow companies to emerge with sustainable models, mindsets, and business practices. Find out how to transition to more effective, productive, and supportive new ways of working—across locations, generations, and platforms—as we harness these challenging circumstances to drive significant, multidimensional changes in all our working lives.








89: Fran Saele — Strategic Innovation of Business Districts, Offices, and Work Options

Francis “Fran” Saele is Managing Principal at Mortevita which provides specialty consulting on the new knowledge workplace and corporate real estate. Fran has deep experience in the corporate real estate sector. He shares his insights and views about the history, dynamics, and future of office infrastructure and the evolving impact on Central Business Districts. Fran is passionate about new ways of working and the workplace transformation that supports it—developing the infrastructure of distributed work. He discusses workplace flexibility and the timing for making decisions and moving forward. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:27] Fran starts studying psychiatry but moves to psychology after challenging lab sessions! [05:03] Fran is tasked with finding a purpose for a newly built building with a lot of empty space and catches the development bug. [06:37] The difference aspects of real estate and development work. [08:11] Speculative development requires incorporating flexibility to allow adjustments for prospective landlords' and tenants' needs. [09:56] Market needs differ, but similarities remain regarding office spaces. [11:00] In the decade before the pandemic, large businesses' trend to centralize operations generated Central Business District (CBD) clusters. [12:40] To compete for talent, Fran had already developed remote working capabilities for his team before 2020. [15:00] The mechanisms that enabled quick adaptations to remote work. [17:44] Why there are 'Return To Office' mandates and why the push is a mistake. [20:30] How organizations are thinking about mitigating reduced office usage. [25:11] Can the shock to the corporate real estate sector trigger a recession? [27:11] How can we reuse of office spaces: Condos? Vertical farming? [30:21] Smucker’s workplace flexibility model developed after discussion with employees. [33:44] Hybrid isn’t meant as a permanent solution. Working out compromises will require “Smucker’s” type moments. [36:10] The tension surrounding 'Return To Office' mandates have yet to result in mass action by employers. [40:14] The role the public sector has to play in reinventing business areas. [42:41] Fran explains the future of the office within the community, including the evolution of malls. [46:30] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: To discover the right work model for your company, do a meaningful diagnostic to find out what your company needs to be and wants to be in the future and how best to get there. Identify management bias first, then talk to employees and understand what makes sense from their perspective. Then decide how best to redesign to achieve more progressive workplace operations, which drive real estate decisions. RESOURCES Fran Saele on LinkedIn QUOTES (edited) “There's a natural instinct in everyone to return to a homeostatic state—a state that worked well for you. Hence the ‘Return To Office’.” “If you talk to anybody in a real estate organization: service providers, brokers, owners, or lenders, they recognized that any material change to how work was done was going to be a threat to their investments, their loans, and their economic future.” “There are billions of dollars of existing financing on thousands of buildings across the country that will come up for refinancing. How much is that going to affect the non-real estate sector, and does it have the potential to drive the economy into a very deep recession?” “Hybrid was never really intended to be a final solution. It was a compromise solution that allowed employees to have some time away and management to have people back in the office.” “I think organizations need to be careful about being too pushy on ‘Return To Office’. A matter like this is likely to lead to some type of labor action, some attempts to move in the direction of unions.” “They’ve got to figure out what to do with the buildings. If they don't, if there is no mission...


88: Paula Allen — How to Nurture Well-being and Mental Health at Work

Paula Allen, Global Leader and SVP of Research and Client Insights at Telus Health, brings her career-long expertise spanning health and productivity management, workplace and mental health, and total well-being strategies for the workplace. Paula shares her insights about how increased uncertainty and overwhelm in a fast-changing world affect workers. She explains why investing in a strong culture and relationships at work, and well-being initiatives which focus on empathy and recovery, are key to achieving and sustaining a healthy workforce and business outcomes. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:03] Images of stress-related structural brain changes cause Paula to study neuropsychology. [06:00] Paula is appalled witnessing how adults with mental health issues are treated in the workplace. [06:32] The CEO asks if Paula wants to change the situation—she says “Yes!”. [07:17] Paula boldly calls a prior CEO at her company after hearing him talk about providers’ failings. [08:14] They had the opportunity to redesign the system from the beginning so people struggling would get what they needed. [09:30] With an empathy-based approach for physical health, they achieve better outcomes. [10:30] With access to research, Paula hones in on the drivers behind different workplace behaviors. [12:27] Focusing on and sharing expectations of recovery are beneficial all round. [13:30] They discover a correlation between the decrease in middle management and increase in mental illness. [14:30] Most supervisors know something is “off” early on, but they just don’t know what to do. [16:45] A manager’s core job is to ensure teams are productive but that only happens when people are feel safe and get training. [18:20] We have had a reset relating to mental health since the pandemic. [18:58] Because people derive part of their identity from their work, fostering a healthy environment is critical. [20:35] A few reasons why employees in need are not using their employer’s benefits. [22:32] Stigma comes from lack of knowledge; Paula shares an interesting way to reframe how we treat people who are struggling. [24:36] Occupational health is also mental health. Paula notes her predictions with the coming change of pace with AI. [28:17] Paula talks about the recent organization-led innovations in the mental health space and shares some interesting demographic data. [31:12] The very real increase in stress younger generations is having to live with and how to face it. [33:08] Paula touches on the increasing pace of change and its negative impacts on human mental health — and what to do about it. [36:23] Paula shares an interesting research parallel between the management of dementia and overwhelm. [38:18] The Stockdale paradox. [40:30] Paula discusses the types of support benefits that exist today and the ones that would be ideal for flexible, distributed workforces. [44:41] The solution to mental health in the workplace is multi-layered. [46:26] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Our best source of resilience is our relationships with other people. Social support is the core of everything to feel a sense of belonging in some group. So if you are feeling off, reach out and talk to someone — you don’t have to talk about what the issue is. Just be connected. On the other side let people in your life understand that they’re important and keep connected to them. RESOURCES Paula Allen on LinkedIn Telus’ Mental Health Index Telus Mental Health Index July 2023 QUOTES (edited) “Giving people what they need allows the clinical work to come to fruition.” “When you look at drivers of productivity, of absence, of turnover, of innovation, of collaboration, of really strong workplace culture, you end up coming back to mental health and well-being.” “A manager’s job is to help make sure that their teams are productive. People are not going to be productive if they don’t feel safe. We’re not...


87: Dan Mapes — General Artificial Intelligence and the Spatial Web at Work

Dan Mapes is the Founder and President of Verses.AI, an advanced artificial general intelligence and spatial web company, and Founder and Director of the Spatial Web Foundation enabling the 3D Internet. He also co-authored the best-selling book, The Spatial Web. Dan explains what globally networked artificial general intelligence can do now, what will become possible soon—especially with AI-run operations—and his vision of our AI-empowered planet in 2100. Dan discusses augmented working capacities, our ongoing caterpiller-like metamorphosis, and how we can all benefit by learning about and leaning into our growing capabilities. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:37] Working on his PhD in AI at Berkeley, Dan clearly sees the ultimate goal of creating software that rewrites itself. [03:36] ChatGPT is a machine rather than a self-evolving system which can learn from its mistakes. [05:02] The ultimate software interface would be a 3-dimensional environment. [06:04] Dan creates a lab to do R&D and work across sectors to solve intractable computer problems. [07:14] The role of game theory in our lives and when developing artificial intelligence. [08:23] Dan’s lab develops: databases that handle game objects, early capabilities to move images over a network, digital humans. [10:18] How biological design using an action perception modeling cycle is a game changer in a co-evolutionary process. [14:16] There are two classes of AI now—(1) content creation (neural nets) and (2) operations. [16:28] We are at a new inflection point—leaving the industrial age and entering an intelligent globally networked age. [17:40] Dan shares a practical use case—his company won an EU contract to manage drones in flight. [20:40] The new AI enabled a universal language of AI – Hyper Space Modeling Language HSML. [22:46] Dan describes what sharing a co-evolutionary brain worldwide means with collective intelligence rising. [27:13] How the internet developed into the World Wide Web. [29:12] The internet was always going to evolve into the Spatial Web once bandwidth increased enough. [30:43] What the Internet of Everything will look and feel like as the 3D Spatial Web. [33:25] The worldwide web’s three big flaws are being fixed by identity, security, and location layers. [37:04] How everyone having self-sovereign identity improves privacy with zero knowledge proofs. [39:16] The data exchange built into the Spatial Web allows each person to trade their personal data, if desired. [40:12] Shopping will be a very different experience with AI-enabled mass personalization. [41:43] The worldwide web aas a prototype—a useful 25-year experiment preparing us for what’s next. [43:24] Dan anticipates a shift of similar magnitude to when we transitioned to the Industrial Age. [45:24] When the network IS the economy, workers are location independent nodes on the network. [46:43] We are transitioning to a planetary civilization, thinking about key problems at a planet level. [48:50] Transforming education outcomes when AI can assess capabilities and personalize learning. [51:34] The caterpillar, the butterfly, and the metamorphosis we are currently cocooning through. [56:20 Dan’s vision of abundance moving beyond the Industrial Age and cooperating at global scale. [57:09] Understanding the historical and potential trajectory of planetary wealth. [58:59] What might be possible combining AI and quantum computing?! [1:00:44] Evolutionary force is driving new developments—such as creating a digital neocortex to augment the human neocortex. [1:03:57] Earth is an evolutionary planet. [1:05:40] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: To prepare and start adapting for an AI-powered future — learn more, educate more — read whitepapers, watch relevant videos and interviews — and come from a fundamental position of trust; trust with care. Feel positive about what we are evolving toward while paying attention to possible...


86: Chase Warrington — The Art and Craft of Work: Intentional Connection and Documentation

Chase Warrington is Head of Remote at Doist, a LinkedIn Top Voice on Remote Work, Global Top 20 Future of Work Influencer, Future of Work advisor, and host of the About Abroad podcast. Chase discusses his more than 15 years of remote team leadership. He shares insights, strategies, and tactics to elevate culture and connection—with a strong in-person strategy—across a fully distributed company. Chase explains how they select and onboard people effectively and teach employees how to work well asynchronously with a foundation of a culture of documentation. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:40] Chase has moved to Crete for a few months for a new work/life environment and experience. [03:27] At college, Chase’s international studies pair him with students in Shanghai to work on a project. [04:34] Chase enjoys an internship experience working in media in China. [05:10] Learning a different language, with different expectations around work, and a foreign culture. [07:14] How Chase figured out working in a cubicle was not for him. [07:56] How Chase’s mother turned her nursing career into a remote job working 4 days a week in 1999! [09:02] Chase starts looking for jobs that will allow him not to be office-based. [10:14] Negotiating with a prospective employer to be on the one team that works remotely. [11:34] Learning early how to work asynchronously. [12:42] Experiencing firsthand, the disadvantage of being remote from a great office culture. [14:54] Chase takes a gap year with his wife, traveling and working. [16:16] Missing being part of a team, Chase looks for a rare fully-remote non-engineer job. [17:52] Chase joins Doist heading up their international marketing team. [18:58] How to make Doist a company synonymous with remote work—part of the wave of the future. [19:59] After the pandemic hits, how can they stay at the forefront of the remote evolution to help build the Future of Work? [22:30] Doist finds most people in N. America and Europe work in similar ways, resulting in an inward focus developing new products. [24:51] Chase focuses on culture and connection to improve Doist’s already high remote working standards. [26:01] Chase does internal and external research to figure out how to build more meaningful connections. [27:28] With a culture of strong documentation, they rethink their central source of truth approach. [29:32] Chase restructures and formalizes the focus on culture and connection—their IRL Strategy. [31:19] How Doist employees work hyper asynchronously! [32:25] How to connect people socially who work very asynchronously. [33:47] The purposeful way Doist handles onboarding—in-person and online. [34:40] New hires are assigned a mentor for six months. [35:58] Doist tries to schedule two synchronous activities a month and two whole company trips a year. [37:38] The people that come to asynchronous companies, and those who leave them. [39:38] The role of local communities in supporting remote working employees. [42:41] Changing the way we work is not easy, Chase encourages leaders to think about if they are building for yesterday, today, or tomorrow. [44:42] A strong in-person strategy—including offsites and retreats—is key to building strong remote companies. [46:58] On About Abroad, Chase’s podcast. [49:05] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: The ultimate goal is for asynchronous work to be the default. Put a stake in the sand for what percentage of asynchronous work you are committing to. Then start optimizing the way your company works. Question every single work-related activity to see if it fits the async or synchronous model better. Create a culture of documentation and meetings become the last resort, not the first. RESOURCES Chase Warrington on LinkedIn About Abroad Podcast QUOTES (edited) “This proximity bias is something that just happens even in the best, well-intentioned...


85: Lata Hamilton — Change Leadership: Emphasizing People Co-Creating the Future

Lata Hamilton is a change leadership expert, change management consultant, and creator of the "Leading Successful Change" program. Lata has worked with some of Australia’s largest companies on operating model changes, global cultural transformations, and digital transformations. She shares her insights about leading people to achieve long-lasting change, especially paying attention to offline process elements. She discusses learnings from pandemic pivots, change leaders’ examples, and a winning top-down/bottom-up combined approach. Lata describes the emphasis shifting from tasks and roles to skills and expertise contributing value to deliver results. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:12] Lata starts her career in advertising to explore her creative side. [05:35] Lata assesses the career model looking for balance—fulfilling work and being well-compensated. [06:52] A graduate program offers many growth opportunities. [07:52] Lata is ambitious, wants variety, and to make an impact. [08:35] How pay should match professional growth and upskilling. [09:48] Lata moves sector using her transferable skills. [10:37] Process work becomes Lata’s focus. [11:32] Lata leaves a graduate role having documented all the team processes. [12:27] In financial services, Lata develops compliance and process skills and discovers project management. [14:14] A colleague suggests change management after reviewing Lata’s range of skills and experience. [16:00] What hadn’t Lata mentioned that is critical for change management work? [17:48] The employee experience drives a great customer experience. [18:39] How they pivoted at a major retailer when the pandemic hit. [21:33] The deep caring Lata observed from people working on the frontline. [22:34] How the change team led by example to demonstrate new ways of working. [23:46] Affecting change, the critical work is off the system—offline process elements such as culture. [25:33] During the pandemic, having had no preparation there was much remediation and helping to transition and cope after the fact. [28:30] Change can be painful, taking much commitment and energy. [29:16] Lata shares what can go wrong for companies not preparing for the future. [31:08] Lata sees an explosion of AI automation and workforce transformation. [31:22] Many organizations are recognizing they have low change management capabilities. [32:58] Lata’s prediction that people’s roles will matter less than who they are, their skills and expertise used to deliver value and results rapidly. [33:57] How “Business As Usual” roles and job descriptions need to be rethought and employees empowered. [35:52] Lata questions leaders’ productivity baseline and metrics used to support Return To Office mandates. [37:15] How should we be measuring success? [38:54] Leading indicators for profit are a reflection of the employee experience. [40:18] Why track sentiment and how confidence—determining how people show up—can bridge gaps. [42:22] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: To affect lasting change, lead from the top and model the change, and also open it up, co-create, and co-design with your teams. Invite them to provide feedback, give them tools, and teach them how to think critically and flexibly, building their capabilities to accept change in their personal and professional lives. [45:30] – How a hackathon co-creates a new operating model and gets people committed to the future state. [47:00] The multiple benefits of tapping into people’s desire to pass on their skills and knowledge. RESOURCES Lata Hamilton on LinkedIn Visit: Leading Successful Change course QUOTES (edited) “Change management is really a focus on people in order to reach a result.” “It’s not fluffy. We help people move from doing things in one way to doing things in a new way. We do it through communications, training, and business readiness. We do it to realize business...


84: Gary A. Bolles — Future of Work Report: Progress and Potential

Gary A. Bolles is Chair for the Future of Work at Singularity University, co-founder of, and Author of “The Next Rules of Work: The Mindset, Skillset and Toolset to Lead Your Organization through Uncertainty”. After a first interview in April 2020, Gary returns to the show to report on how he sees the Future of Work progressing and our ongoing adjustments for it. He shares insights about important work trends, mindsets, behaviors, and balance. Gary describes how concurrent waves of old work rules, transitional models, and the next rules of work are impacting leaders and our multigenerational workforce with its shifting weighting of employees and non-employees. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:20] Revisiting our first podcast discussion at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, Gary recalls his article about the Great Reset. [03:54] The helpful visual of multiple waves to understand the evolution of work. [05:10] Some leaders have bungeed back to old rules of work while others have embraced new rules and operating systems. [07:02] The effect of perceived incentives and disincentives on changing habits and rules. [08:05] How to benefit from pandemic learnings and accept the messiness of adapting new practices. [10:50] Zooming out to shift your mindset about how to solve problems across your ecosystem. [11:36] Imagining leading without ego and with trust in order to alter leaders’ approaches. [14:53] How media’s mischaracterizations don’t help as three waves of work try to co-exist. [15:32] The inevitable trend of continuous co-creation which young people especially seem to embrace. [16:30] The power dynamic had tilted towards employers which flexible work is rebalancing to some degree. [18:29] Picture ourselves as icebergs. We employ entire people, not just the tip of the iceberg which we recruit. [19:32] In the new era of work, leaders are responsible for workers, their lives, and communities. [21:43] Sophie anticipates smaller core employee groups and more non-employee workers in future. [22:50] Future employee “agency” achieved through a “worknet” - a flexible flow of talent with varying degrees of organization membership. [24:05] How to help increase degrees of membership in your company, enable people to feel connected, co-create effectively, and be rewarded. [25:00] Cybersecurity provides a similar framework for the worknet model. [27:00] Using words and concepts that reflect people’s sentiments and realities helps us reach balanced understanding and outcomes. [29:10] Aren’t young employees manifesting the Future of Work rather than disrupting work norms? [30:15] How young people are responding to new market signals as new work practices endure. [32:09] Why older leaders are bereft at Gen Z’s behaviors and miss the opportunity of co-creation. [33:23] Why aren’t younger employees’ deciding their careers now, and other related outcomes? [34:45] How the precarity of the world is driving youth to hedge their bets with a portfolio strategy. [35:32] Looking at the three stages of life horizontally not vertically (sequentially) as proposed by Gary’s father who wrote “What Color is Your Parachute?” [36:47] Parents ask “Why won’t my kid get a real job?” It’s a hedge strategy. It’s ensuring optionality. [39:00] How culture can be a journey, defined by a mindset and behaviors that are reinforced. [41:30] What is the process and ongoing actions that empower agency and co-creation? [43:46] Gary defines empathy as lived experiences. He focuses on caring for coworkers. [47:19] The sea change ahead as more capable tools come online. [48:08] Work involving synthesis is greatly enhanced by AI-boosted tools. [49:46] Leaders need to focus on helping workers be upskilled and utilize the tools to solve current problems. [51:18] Starting with a growth (vs fixed) mindset and focusing on flex (or soft) skills for today’s business needs. [52:15]...


83: Dave Cairns — Reenvisioning Commercial Space for Modern Work

Dave Cairns, SVP Office Leasing for CBRE, focuses on working with high growth companies in the tech sector. Dave is a futurist relating to the office market. He shares his views about commercial real estate trends including current realities, core issues, lease restructuring ahead, and future possibilities such as shifting to offer “Space As A Service” going forward. Dave describes the benefits of new richer community demographics as urban dwellers move out. He also sees great potential of virtual worlds to offer more options and richer experiences. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:40] Dave intentionally created a happy place. [04:06] He gets a university degree although he hones other skills. [05:10] Flexible studying allows Dave to develop his talents at poker. [05:36] Competitive poker playing success gives Dave a cushion during the 2008 Great Recession. [06:55] Trying to improve his game, Dave accidentally becomes a poker instructor. [09:04] Dave loves playing live poker but the risk:reward ratio is much better online. [10:00] Playing 8-15 hours a day takes its toll, but motivation and autonomy matter. [11:55] The dynamics of poker—responding to your opponent. [13:00] What Dave learned about reading people virtually. [13:24] “Thin slicing” a person—making decisions based on a narrowly focused initial read. [15:12] Exogenous events cause Dave to change direction—it seemed timely too. [16:28] Exploring potentially viable work environments, Dave interviews with brokerages. [17:12] Insurances brokerages hesitate over Dave’s poker history, but commercial real estate likes it. [18:12] Dave uses his natural interpersonal and analytical skills. [18:40] The work situation is not desirable, but Dave believes he will be able to improve it over time. [19:23] When the pandemic hits, Dave quickly recognizes work will be structured differently in future. [20:14] The pandemic expands Dave’s interests to include corporate culture, HR, and social justice. [22:14] Pre-pandemic, WeWork’s consumer facing brand threatens the commercial real estate sector despite their limited footprint. [23:42] Customers seek more flexibility, exposing issues with valuations and long leases. [25:01] Dave describes the current and likely vacancy situation of Toronto’s tech submarkets. [28:06] Circumstances are complex with dependencies on existing long-term leases. [29:29] What new strategies are possible including conversions to residential? [31:27] “Space As A Service” is a useful approach, especially to offer shorter team arrangements. [32:34] More ad hoc arrangements or restructuring leases would provide more utility. [33:27] Why many landlords are not trying to activate buildings differently. [35:14] Dave benefits from knowing how to build relationships “remote first” as a poker player. [35:57] The benefit of a multidimensional global perspective with a hyper-localized business. [36:34] Dave explores different opportunities including remote work to help SaaS companies. [38:34] Dave is passionate about helping reshape some of the industry sector’s problems. [39:37] Is Dave gaslighting his wife about moving?! [40:59] How richer communities are developing and socioeconomic divides decreasing thanks to distributed working. [43:19] The Metaverse is not yet here, but Dave is convinced virtual worlds present much opportunity in the Future of Work. [44:43] Earning people’s attention in virtual space by creating friction—having to develop an avatar. [45:05] How can diversity and inclusion be supported in virtual worlds. [46:00] Discovering they are embodying mission critical innovation/collaboration activities virtually. [46:43] Media-generated perspectives and stereotypes about people who work outside the office. [47:10] Dave anticipates many future use cases, different needs and possibilities convening in virtual worlds. [49:26] Video game-based guild members’...


82: Joanna Parsons — How Communication Strengthens a Modern Work Culture

Joanna Parsons is the Founder and Director of The Curious Route and one of the leading experts in internal communication across the UK and Ireland. Joanna’s experience spans non-profit, government (the police force), and corporate domains. She brings new thinking and approaches to key employee events and environments to stimulate curiosity, develop connections, and nurture shared understanding of culture across disparate and distributed employee groups. Joanna shares the benefits of “unlearning” especially to collaborate effectively as we establish new ways of working. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:39] Joanna is very curious about people, culture, social norms, and human behavior. [03:35] At 12 years old, Joanna starts reaching out through communications. [04:23] Joanna starts in internal communications for an NGO in India but changes sector to satisfy her ambitious nature. [05:42] Getting to know her audience, Joanna draws on storytelling to create compelling messages. [06:55] Changing company cultures can be jarring, but Joanna acclimates easily in financial services. [07:54] Communication challenges across sectors are similar—eg relating to jargon and leadership communications. [08:34] A poor personal experience of corporate induction, Joanna boldly gamifies the process. [10:49] A speed dating approach builds relationships between new recruits and employees and executives. [13:52] Joanna shares how the new onboarding process energized long-time employees as well. [15:00] Having real conversations matters for building ties with new employees. [16:05] The Irish police force recruits Joanna into a recommended new Head of Internal Comms role. [16:45] Joanna walks into a divided “us vs them” culture—she loves a good challenge! [18:05] After a great time in the interview, Joanna thinks they will never pick her. [19:26] Joanna spends the first three months visiting people, listening, and watching. [20:15] Understanding an organization’s information flow takes time, patience, and observation. [21:47] Building relationships in personal ways and showing respect are critical for developing trust. [23:42] After demonstrating she listened and is offering relevant solutions, leaders invite her to help them. [24:43] During an early lockdown, the Swiss police reach out to the Irish police with a dance challenge! [26:33] Once posted, the video goes viral and other groups start sending in their own versions. [27:53] The dance challenge and great empathy demonstrated by the police during the pandemic changed public perception and improved trust in the Irish police. [30:40] Internal communications is centered on shared understanding across all employees emphasizing the organization’s vision, mission, and values. [32:42] “Unlearning” previous habits can be a helpful approach for adapting to new ways of working. [34:21] The Curious Route describes Joanna’s approach to work and her newsletter. [36:16] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: First—when creating a communication, think about the audience, not yourself, and connect it to them. Second—when you are writing something, get to the point. Say what you want to say, say it quickly, and stop. RESOURCES Joanna Parsons on LinkedIn Joanna’s website TheCuriousRoute Joanna’s newsletter The Curious Route An Garda Síochána Dance Challenge Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More with Less QUOTES (edited) “It is really all about understanding the people before you start trying to create a message.” “Even though you can switch industries—I was in the charity sector then financial services, then policing, and now in tech—all the communication challenges are actually more similar than different.” “The first three months, it probably just looked like I was drinking coffee. This is where all my sociology training came in because I just listened and observed and ask questions.” “The trick for anyone that is Head of Communications...


81: Brian Elliott — “Redesigning Forward” for the Future of Work

Brian Elliott is a veteran executive leader, advisor, speaker, and best-selling co-author of “How the Future Works: Leading Flexible Teams to the Best Work of Their Lives”. After several years in leadership at Slack, he co-founded and was the Executive Leader of the Future-of-Work think tank Future Forum. Brian shares wide-ranging insights including: executive/employee trust issues, how executives feel disconnected if not engaging in the (virtual) spaces where their teams are, how productivity can be gamed, the disease of meetings(!), building for the future based on where we are now, and the need to create constraints to channel new ways of working. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:38] Brian explores his desire to be a professor doing research and analytics as a case writer at HBS. [05:02] Brian likes to put himself in situations where he has to learn and grow. [05:41] Brian gets great feedback which helps him evolve and improve as a manager. [07:25] Survival depended on culturally aligning people from different disciplines and backgrounds, sharing understanding of problems and solving them. [08:35] Being transparent about the P&L was critical and treating people like adults. [09:10] Getting to know each other was essential, regularly breaking bread together. [10:33] Brian's resume redemption move—transitioning to Google doing product development. [12:10] The first issue to address was mending culture—dysfunction across a diverse team. [13:40] Establishing (early) protocols, enabling distributed teams to have effective meetings. [14:50] Brian moves to Slack to help integrate a variety of partners. [15:42] The origin story of Slack as a communications backbone. [16:27] The impact of Brian’s team being 9 to 5 office-based but not co-located at HQ. [17:49] Three things came together during the pandemic to create Future Forum. [19:49] Brian repeatedly builds teams/departments and then moves on to something smaller. [20:52] Brian leans into his experiences in external facing communications. [23:15] Henry Ford experimented with five, six, seven, and even four day work weeks! [24:17] We haven’t revisited our inherited systems of work, when offices initially did “factory” work. [25:21] Why do we perpetuate past habits thinking they continue to be the “recipe for success”? [26:40] Trust is the core issue, which wasn't questioned when we had to get through the pandemic. [27:45] Trust is being questioned as executives to return to empty offices and they aren't where the conversations are happening. [30:26] Disconnected communications across spaces are resulting in pushes to return to the office. [33:35] Disparity in perceptions about transparency lead to discord, while planning without employees’ inputs. [34:09] A consensus driven approach to decision making and anecdotal storytelling driving policy. [34:40] Gen Z's are looking for a balanced approach—not all in the office or at home. [36:07] If we get frustrated, we can't go backwards. [36:37] Intentional design—who does the current office design actually work for? [39:09] Feedback and the mediocre management problem. [40:00] Productivity is easy to game. [42:40] What date are we building from for our futures? Are we redesigning forward? [43:54] Why returning to the office full-time is illogical and counterproductive. [46:10] How to develop guardrails and prevent extremes. [48:16] The “disease” called meetings which hinders offering flexible hours. [49:22] Top reasons behind having too many meetings—including obligation and FOMO. [50:54] Brian describes the need to put constraints in place to create new work habits. [53:35] What worked for Brian at Future Forum for optimal teamwork. [54:43] Brian’s hope for his children as we move further into the Future of Work. [56:54] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Figure out what problem you are trying to solve, engage directly with a trusted group of your...


80: Oscar Trimboli — Deep Listening for Enhanced Communication and Effective Meetings

Oscar Trimboli is a marketing and technology industry veteran who consults to multinationals with a quest to create 100 million Deep Listeners. Over 28,000 people have contributed to his research about listening. Oscar describes how he learned to listen deeply and consequently improve organizational performance including shortening meetings. He shares useful insights and questioning techniques, demonstrated as he prompts Sophie to hone her own skills. Oscar is the author of “How to Listen”, and host of award-winning podcast “Deep Listening.” KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:01] To avoid drawing attention to himself, Oscar starts to ask people questions and be very curious. [04:10] Oscar learned to watch and listen for signs playing cards with international students at school. [06:58] Following his father’s advice, Oscar becomes an accountant, but his boss steers him to coding. [09:17] “Which customers have you listened to?” Oscar asks engineers when developing new products. [11:40] If people want to join Oscar’s team they are tasked to bring back a new insight about customers. [14:11] Before becoming CEO, Satya Nadella was in a Microsoft division which was customer-focused. [14:54] A concerning interaction with Oscar’s VP ends up with him being asked to code how to listen. [16:45] Oscar audits a meeting starting to encode his observations and build his research database—now at 27,000--and listening materials. [18:29] Researching non-therapeutic listening, Oscar discovers no commonality of approach. [19:13] Observing interactions, Oscar starts counting the number of questions, types, and length. [20:37] Good meeting hosts have empathetic curiosity to understand other people’s perspectives. [22:48] Deliberate listening and questioning techniques can shorten meetings by several hours a week. [23:55] Assessing appropriate use of open-ended questions and biased questions. [26:00] Oscar believes many leaders operate from a place of unconscious bias vs dialogue and outcome. [26:55] Oscar notes that Sophie’s question is long and complex and advises her to break it down to improve understanding. [28:44] Oscar answers Sophie’s reworded question, explaining the five levels of listening. [30:10] People only voice 14% of their thoughts, so the most important elements may be left unsaid. [32:02] The importance of silence—appreciated more in indigenous cultures and Asian countries. [33:45] The Bias Assessment: Oscar says 3 is half of 8 and shows he is correct! [35:16] Using the Harvard Association Bias Assessment to help combat our assumption filter. [37:40] Interrupting skillfully and elegantly—but not cutting someone off—can be a powerful listening technique. [39:19] The question to ask at the beginning of a conversation to create common direction and shorten the meeting. [43:15] How referring periodically to the question acts as a compass and tracks progress. [44:08] How this listening compass gives permission for adjustments and shortens meetings. [45:14] Oscar wonders if Sophie could shorten her question to one sentence. [46:01] Sophie’s second question is short and direct, possibly too direct? [47:03] Oscar shares the 1:25:900 rule, Sophie incorporates context, revising the question a third time. [48:34] How leaders can hone their question skills, recognizing different orientation and perspectives. [51:57] We have a listening battery with finite capacity. Ensure you recharge it or postpone the next meeting. [53:29] The importance of carving out time between and before virtual meetings. [55:05] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Before you go into a virtual meeting, use three minutes to charge your listening battery by listening to music. The music tempo should match the outcome you want. At the same time, get out of your chair, go for a walk. RESOURCES Oscar Trimboli on LinkedIn Oscar’s website Oscar’s book “How to Listen: Discover the Hidden Key to Better...


79: John Lee — International Distributed Work is Growing: Why, How, Where, and for Whom?

John Lee is the CEO and Founder of Work From Anywhere and a serial entrepreneur. John describes his experiences living and working in multiple countries and the complexities of intercultural communication across large multinational organizations. He discusses the opportunities and issues for employers who seek to offer employees options to work remotely internationally and increase their international hiring, which his company helps with. John shares his expectations about the Future of Work and the advantages for employers of accessing a broader talent pool. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:48] John studies accountancy — the “language of business” — to support his desire to become an entrepreneur. [03:50] John was inspired to create something bigger than himself and leave an imprint for the better. [05:00] John develops his natural language gift. [05:45] John explains how learning other languages enables deeper human connection. [6:10] John picks his worst skill to work on in college which propels him internationally at Deloitte. [07:10] How John's language skills are useful working on performance improvement initiatives around Europe. [07:35] Plant managers share many more issues when communicated with in their own language. [08:20] John built strong relationships and learned much about the international businesses thanks to his communications and cultural sensibilities. [08:55] A transition moment to leave the corporate world, catalyzed by John's mentor. [09:18] John's wife, Dee, conceives of the first business concept focused on intercultural training. [10:12] They launch a travel well-being community to foster and share travel related soft skills. [11:20] John and his wife noticed their Lonely Planet guide didn't share information about countries’ cultures and people. [12:14] Intercultural research was a core resource integrated to offer culturally-focused local videos and information. [13:12] CultureMee wins a prestigious award for best business travel technology product. [14:36] Dutch and Irish cultural differences had interesting repercussions when John worked at CRH. [16:28] A yes/no Bulgarian example of communication differences! [17:18] John has a deep curiosity about people, their cultural and other identities. [18:20] The shift from studying national differences to encompass diversity, inclusion, and more. [19:14] Pivoting to a business travel API, they have major growth opportunities in the US. [20:00] The pandemic hits at the worst moment—John takes time off to regroup. [21:55] What is the No 1 obstacle preventing internationally distributed working for millions of people? [22:50] What is the right solution for your next international remote hire? [23:51] Companies are exploring distributed work: temporarily working in different countries and structurally hire people in different jurisdictions. [25:00] Key reasons include accessing a deeper talent pool or getting closer to customers. [26:45] Cities are assessing the visitors they attract—from cruise passengers to digital nomads. [29:45] Digital nomad visas—which had gaps initially—are accelerating the future of international remote work. [30:39] Local economies benefit by encouraging new visitor types. [31:16] The second accelerating factor is the “employer of record” arrangement. [32:00] How businesses can expand internationally easily using new options. [33:43] John on the recent partnership with Mercer. [34:38] Some companies are adjusting better than others to new working options. John feels we are still working it out. [36:25] John’s own preferences, perceived benefits, and balance. [38:31] What are the implications for income tax? [39:24] What will the impact be on traditional education systems? [40:00] John is intrigued by Plumia, a venture trying to create a country on the Internet! [42:02] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: If your company is interested in offering...


78: Nina Bhatia - Transformation at Scale Enabled by Employee Ownership

Nina Bhatia is the Executive Director, Strategy and Commercial Development at the John Lewis Partnership (JLP). Nina discusses the business shifts that she and the rest of the JLP executive team are navigating during this period of economic and technology-driven change. She explains the characteristics and strengths of their employee ownership model including the power of transparency in cultivating an internal democracy and a culture of sharing and trust. Nina describes their approach to evolving work arrangements and their emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:39] Nina starts out as a consultant rather than a lawyer by chance. [03:10] Nina gets a great range of experiences as at McKinsey. [04:05] Nina finds herself drawn to integrative problems that don’t have easy solutions. [05:01] Consulting was a new sector and the apprenticeship model shaped Nina’s experience and training. [06:50] Nina learned to be resilient as she developed more understanding about her strengths. [07:53] After years advising companies, Nina really wants to run a business with scale. [08:35] Nina explores a wide range of opportunities as she chooses to transition to an operating role. [10:01] It was initially hard for Nina to transition to a gritty business fixing plumbing and appliances. [11:20] Nina accompanies the engineers and learns how to diagnose her own washing machine. [11:42] The strategy work that led to building a tech-led business with a customer acquisition advantage. [12:30] Transitioning to Hive was a steep learning curve, finding ways to make decisions quickly. [13:22] By focusing on the functions that matter most, Nina can meet customers’ needs—even with limited resources. [15:06] Nina joins the John Lewis Partnership in Feb 2020—very new in her role as the pandemic starts. [15:59] Nina’s context when the business and its customers are going through significant changes. [17:08] Difficult strategy work is involved when changing the modes of selling, delivery, and customer interaction all at once. [17:40] Nina was challenged and inspired, experiencing the essence of JLP’s DNA. [19:01] JLP's employees own the business, so it's personal and change initiatives require care. [19:30] “Love” and “trust” are words frequently associated with John Lewis and Waitrose brands. [21:04] Employee co-ownership has three important dimensions: knowledge, power, and profit. [21:34] Partners’ right to transparency has a powerful effect on the organization in many ways. [24:13] Founded in 1864, the Partnership has a surprising purpose that encompasses partners’ happiness. [25:08] The purpose was recently expanded to include customers and communities with 12,000 partners actively contributing to the internal democratic process. [26:26] Social mobility was very important to the Founder, John Stephen Lewis. [27:06] How talent mobility works at JLP enabling partners to develop breadth in their careers. [27:36] Considering the challenges facing the retail sector globally and exploring greater diversification for a well-trusted brand. [28:42] Diversification to ensure continued quality earnings leads to exploring the JLP’s large asset base while the UK is experiencing housing shortages. [30:45] JLP’s two existing successful retail businesses must be sustained while creating options for the future. [31:31] The development of a cohesive employee ownership culture during and post pandemic. [32:20] JLP’s general approach to workplace flexibility. [33:36] JLP has no return to the office mandate, respecting teams’ different needs and letting them figure out what works. [34:08] Nina observes experimentation and tensions during this transition as people change their lifestyles and work habits. [36:05] Nina wonders if their least experienced employees can learn well in hybrid configurations. [38:20] John Lewis’ purpose must be considered...


77: Alicia Serrani - Rising Millennials' Approach to Work, Values, Innovation, and Leadership

Alicia Serrani is a rising Millennial leader and serial entrepreneur. Alicia started at RBS and Morgan Stanley and got a law degree while launching several new ventures—spanning art, politics, artificial intelligence, and fashion. Alicia explains why her first boss had such an impact on her approach to leadership and business, why she deliberately chose the entrepreneurial route as a woman, and how working remotely supercharged her ability to innovate. She shares how she guides and mentors her employees while also trying to remedy some of Gen Z’s detrimental pandemic experiences. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:22] Alicia goes for political science as a means to enact practical philosophy. [02:52] Being in NYC allowed Alicia to explore a wide range of early internship experiences. [04:01] Fashion is Alicia’s family business. [04:38] Banking was a fluke development at the start of Alicia’s career. [06:10] Alicia discovers her banking colleagues lead rich personal lives. [08:20] A hit and run causes brain trauma and it takes the first six weeks at Alicia’s new job to recover. [09:23] Physically incapacitated, Alicia pioneers a remote finance career in 2014 doing data remediation. [11:33] The contrasting office environments of RBS and Morgan Stanley. [12:10] Alicia learns about good and bad bosses from her first boss. [13:44] Contemplating the next career move—potentially venture capital. [14:30] Alicia moves into a startup role after meeting her founding partner at a party. [15:10] What New Hive is and how digital art, blockchain, and NFTs evolved. [17:11] Alicia and Zach develop “survivable disagreement” to collaborate with parties that are at odds. [20:01] Law school becomes Alicia’s pathway to enhance her business credibility. [22:24] In the midst of her law degree, Alicia and Zach launch a second startup,, and why the model wasn’t sustainable. [23:17] They start tracking misinformation and narrative influence regarding voter fraud in 2016. [24:41] The strange dynamics of a misinformation operation, and uncovering it. [27:27] Third Web – Alicia and her business partner’s brain trust. [28:03] Alicia’s philosophy on work—using a graduating lawyer as an example. [29:34] Some of Alicia’s classmates from law school are already taking less traditional routes. [31:08] Alicia shares her plan for her law degree. [31:55] How Alicia thinks technology will elevate the importance of industry level expertise. [33:09] Alicia discusses entrepreneurship as a way to embody your values and stimulate change. [34:36] In entrepreneurial overdrive during the pandemic, Alicia speaks of her approach for developing new projects and ventures. [36:50] How hard fashion businesses are which “hoodwinked” Alicia into actively running T.W.I.N.. [38:56] A boss of many Gen Z’s, Alicia explains her approach to onboarding after the pandemic. [40:10] Isolation during the pandemic impacted aspects of Gen Z’s social comfort and professionalism. [42:06] How Alicia sets clear expectations, identifies goals, and fosters ideas. [43:42] Mentoring is a mutual investment for Alicia and extends beyond her companies. [45:24] Diversity and inclusion requires keeping yourself in check. [46:10] Alicia counsels young employees to recognize the difference between working in a small company and expectations in a large corporate environment. [48:04] Building diverse and inclusive organizations has been a recurring conversation for Alicia. [48:55] How organizational structures can evolve to support effective decision-making, engagement, and creativity. [50:00] Alicia wants to balance and benefit from both physical presence and remote work. [51:00] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: If you’re on the entrepreneurial path, don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. Sketch it out, try it out, don’t spend a lot of money doing it. Don’t get in your own way. Be intentional about getting it...


76: Elias Baltassis - Generative AI at Work: Truth, Changes, & Consequences

Elias Baltassis is a Partner and Senior Director at the Boston Consulting Group. He has deep expertise in AI- and data-enabled strategy, data operating models, data governance, responsible artificial intelligence and ethics, and new data-driven business development. Elias is passionate about data and analytics and the transformative impact of artificial Intelligence on business and society. He shares his insights about generative AI and LLMs, their potential effect on business, productivity, and relationships, including our necessary attention to ethics and far-reaching implications of AI in the workplace and on the Future of Work. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:42] Elias starts trading bonds after studying math, econometrics, and computer science. [04:17] From notation calculators to basic spreadsheets to nascent AI, Elias sees patterns in tool evolution. [05:17] Elias moves to consulting, always involved in quantitative fields. [06:20] The significant AI break throughs since 2016-17. [07:12[ Why self-supervised learning was one critical advance. [07:50] New architectures--enabling much larger models—were a second step, leading to generative artificial (GenAI) models. [08:55] What the “language” of Large Language Models (LLMs) covers. [10:00] After training ChatGPT by absorbing the internet, “hallucinations” need to be eliminated. [11:06] “Red teaming” to eliminate hallucinations. [12:11] The next refinement step is “reinforcement learning from human feedback”. [13:00] The issue of “jail-breaking” models to circumvent “blocked” answers. [14:32] Data embedding or fine-tuning: using private data to train GPT. [16:02] Why did ChatGPT stop data accretion in 2021? [16:30] The considerable cost of topology, training, and refining AI models. [17:43] User input in ChatGPT serves to refine the model more so than to teach it. [19:37] The Future of Jobs: Will generative AI lead to mass job losses? If so, when? [21:37] Why the impact of GenAI will be delayed in some areas. [23:00] GenAI is impacting certain areas faster—such as coding and customer service—generally enabling significant productivity gains. [24:35] Career progression must adjust as corporate pyramids’ bases shrink. [26:00] Knowledge management will change appreciably, with new jobs created and new tools and processes invented. [29:14] Different professions and companies try to codify their “secret sauce”—what can GenAI take care of? [30:30] What will remain? How people show empathy, interact, and give emotional support. [32:05] Many existing articles about GenAI contain factual inaccuracies. [33:19] Training to understand applied technologies is becoming much more important. [34:40] In a time of exponential curves, doom predictions are imprudent and never verified. [35:18] What Elias is most excited about—especially leveling up the playing field. [36:30] Likely effects: huge productivity improvements depending on the country’s social contract and a reduction in work time. [37:40] Elias explains why timelines relating to GenAI are difficult to circumscribe and more than five years is now considered “long-term”. [38:50] How Elias anticipates the dynamics of change over time due to GenAI. [39:39] Why the “truth function” matters. [40:26] AI may be capable of a kind of informed creativity, as humans do. [40:44] The beneficial mix of technology, regulation, and internal company rules and the emerging need for a Chief AI Ethics Officer role. [44:01] Misinformation is a major concern for Elias. [45:22] The possible negative impact of generative AI on kids. [47:02] We need a definition of what it means to be “human” and “intelligent”—remembering the movie “Her”. [48:06] Comments on the open letter written by Musk, Wozniak, Harari, and others. [49:47] What Geoff Hinton has achieved and what he has to say about GenAI. [51:33] Fellow Turing Award winner Yann LeCun has...


75: Minter Dial — Purposefully Integrating Empathy and AI at Work

Minter Dial and the podcast’s host, Sophie, discuss empathy at work in the new technology-driven era of business and work. They both draw from their books—Minter’s rerelease of Heartificial Empathy: Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence and Sophie’s second book Empathy Works: The Key to Competitive Advantage in the New Era of Work. They explore and debate how to integrate empathy effectively as well as bring a human-centric approach to the AI-infused business and working landscape. Minter shares his insights about the importance of companies’ having an ethical framework that incorporates empathy as they integrate more AI. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:48] Minter’s journey into empathy was by the “back door”. [05:45] Recognizing the benefits of teaching empathy to sales people, l’Oréal initiates a program for those contracted to sell their products. [06:30] Minter finds the approach ironic and reflects on authentic leadership. [07:05] Assessing yourself for empathy skills and how to connect with somebody else's experience. [09:22] Why haven't we been working with more empathy? [11:20] Other factors elevating the need for empathy at work—now. [12:56] Has our empathy—and deeper understanding of each other—generated during pandemic times all evaporated? [14:35] What is behind the high levels of unhappiness and unfulfillment at work? [15:10] The significant shift in the US in people’s views about their working lives. [16:12] What drives empathy that isn’t intentional and authentic. [18:30] How does empathy and flexibility improve business results? [20:15] The pros and cons of having choices. [21:00] Can you engage people individually in a traditional company that has 10,000 employees? [22:02] Focusing on the needs of individuals within a unit. [22:40] How the pandemic helped us understand different approaches and methods. [23:45] Aligning empathy with the business objectives and all the players across the ecosystem. [23:45] The “why” of any company is central to making the organization work. [24:22] Minter believes empathy is a pre-condition for an ethical framework. [25:29] AI is something to bring your humanity to. Minter shares examples of how AI can be used. [27:22] Are we thinking sufficiently about why and how we are introducing generative AI? [29:19] Bettering people’s lives at Redken—connecting people along the value chain with purpose. [32:20] How gen AI search results reflect our collective consciousness—good and bad—elevating the need for an ethical framework. [35:15] Minter gives permission to be imperfect, pushing out and trying. [37:25] Empathy doesn’t mean always being nice—but making tough decisions. [38:18] What standard are we holding ourselves to? How well do we understand ourselves? [39:15] Minter calls for more self-awareness, especially to understand our reasoning and flaws. [40:49] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Do something for others and reconnect with the ordinary things in life. RESOURCES Minter Dial on LinkedIn Minter on Twitter Follow Minter’s Substack DIALOGOS — Fostering Meaningful Conversations Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch QUOTES (edited) “I do feel that the level of unhappiness and unfulfillment at work is about as high as it gets. And perhaps the lingering element is ‘What is this all about? what, what are we doing, Sophie, on this earth? What is my life for?’” “I feel that empathy is a precondition for your ethics, but it doesn't mean you’re good. At the end of the day, what are you trying to achieve? Who are you? If you use empathy with manipulation, you’re going to have manipulative ethics.” “If we want to call AI a step change like the printing press, I think it’s possibly the right call. But I would wish that we would be more focused on the meaningfulness of our business as opposed to the technology that’s going to drive the numbers.” “This notion of having a purpose...


74: Kate Lister (Pt 2) — Remote Work is Helping Us Learn How to Work Effectively

Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytic and seasoned expert on distributed work, returns for Part 2 of her interview about hybrid and remote working. In this episode, Kate describes how to deploy remote options successfully—how we need to update management and work practices. She explains what claims and complaints about remote working research confirms and counters, what we need to be productive and to innovate, why surveillance is not managing, and how important remote options are for supporting sustainability. TAKEAWAYS [03:59] Prior to the pandemic preparations for new work practice deployment took months. [05:08] Even with preparation, establishing new practices as routines takes time and attention. [08:00] New tools, asynchronous communication, and documentation are improving work experiences and effectiveness. [08:41] Who can manage to break through hybrid meetings and how? [09:42] Making better decisions about the practices and processes of meetings. [10:41] Managing remote workers requires a shift in approach—to coach. [11:28] The growing issues of surveillance, work breaks, and stress. [13:20] Monitoring is babysitting not managing—why not manage by results instead? [13:53] The four things remote working is supposed to be negatively affecting. [15:09] How to nurture culture intentionally. [16:32] Telework doesn't create management problems it reveals them—such as low trust, weak culture. [18:05] How Capital One communicates layoffs transparently—very differently from other companies. [19:08] Survey design is critical when trying to find out how employees are (really) doing. [20:47] Deciding the key (new) norms of effective work. [23:10] After agreeing norms, trust and empathy can build, reducing potential conflict. [25:52] How can middle managers build trust, stuck between return-to-office and work-from-home tensions. [27:05] Innovation’s two components: (1) creativity—best done alone; (2) vetting—best done in a group. [28:21] Addressing the decrease of weak ties which are important for innovation and growth. [30:15] Goals should cascade down internally to connect employees with purpose. [33:04] Onboarding was not working before the pandemic, how can we redesign it? [33:58] Mentoring, training, skills, and access combined with appropriate tools and equipment are critical for success. [34:45] Dealing with the “sludge of work” to improve results. [36:46] The importance of transparently sharing the managerial “why”. [38:07] Sustainability is a key benefit of reducing traffic to the office through use of remote work options. [40:46] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: To modernize your workplace and ways of working, listen to your people. Listen to your customers and suppliers. Listen to the investment community. Don’t make assumptions. Also lift your foot off the gas sometimes or people will get burned out and leave. RESOURCES Kate Lister on LinkedIn Kate on Twitter Kate’s company website QUOTES (edited) “Working remotely is something that's gonna take a lot of practice, and you're gonna have to keep each other honest on it.” “Culture is about people, and we were using an office as kind of a proxy for culture when it wasn’t.” “Is there anybody that doubts that if somebody is happy and feeling good, they’re going to perform better? And yet what do we do to help them with that?” “The research shows that people who are brainstorming face-to-face feel more productive. They’re not! They come up with more ideas, but fewer commercially viable ideas.” “When it comes to onboarding, 50% of people quit in the first six months, this is before the pandemic! How was that onboarding going before? I don’t think that’s one of those things that we want to replicate! This is about practices and processes.”


73: Kate Lister (Pt 1) — The Data-based Business Case for Remote Work

Kate Lister is President of Global Workplace Analytics and a veteran advocate of remote working—or teleworking as it was previously called. Kate brings almost two decades of experience making data-based business cases to employers to convince them of the financial merits of offering remote working options. She discusses the catalyzing effect of the pandemic which substantially increased the awareness and acceptance of new work arrangements. Kate highlights the long history of employees’ desire for flexibility over their work location and schedule. She also warns of significant downsides for corporations if they do not integrate hybrid or remote work models. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:34] Kate starts as a banker, becomes an entrepreneur, and is about to retire when the Great Recession hits. [04:14] With her husband, Kate builds and runs a vintage airplane ride business for 16 years! [05:10] They sell the business—which they had run from home—and research their next home-based venture. [06:40] Kate’s daughter gets scammed by home-based work, so Kate and her husband write their third book revealing the “naked truth” about making money from home. [07:56] Researching for the book, Kate notices no one has made the business case for “teleworking”—trying to quantify the benefits. [08:40] “Show me the money!” The financial benefits are clear—saving 52 mins of commuting time and 3 hours of distracted time at the office every day. [09:07] Kate has built up a database of over 6,000 research documents studying workplaces and quantifying telecommuting/remote working effects and benefits. [09:32] Making the fact-based business case to the C-suite, quantifying why productivity and or retention would increase. A calculator is available online. [10:20] Benefiting people, planet, and profit. Employees also saved money—employees’ desire to work remotely or not is not considered (pre-pandemic). [11:02] A champion typically brings Kate in to persuade the (rest of the) C-suite depending on the pain point(s) for the particular company—such as saving money, talent or office space. [13:59] Contingent labor typically goes up and down signaling the start and end of a recession, but that does not happen at the end of the Great Recession—and reasons change. [14:54] Reported remote workdays grow 10% a year pre-pandemic, but from a small base. [15:41] Census data (questions) is not capturing accurate data about remote workdays. [16:57] Kate is surprised by how quickly people adapted to working remotely during the pandemic. [18:31] Remote work becomes more humanized and egalitarian, people feel more trusted. [20:59] 2021 is Kate’s busiest and most polarized consulting year to date as employers and employees had conflicting desires about returning to the office. [21:59] Time-shifting work is even more popular with employees than remote working options, but meets more resistance from employers. [23:12] If people working from home get their work done, why do you care what else they do? [23:37] The percentage of people wanting to work fully-remote and hybrid is increasing. [24:02] 18 years ago, 90% of people already wanted to work part of the week from home. [26:26] Kate shows CEOs and CFOs the business costs if they were to force people back to the office. [27:13] The business case often involves reducing real estate costs, also recognizing workplace issues. [28:27] Research shows people want the ability to have privacy at the office. [29:00] Activity Based Working was building prior to the pandemic to provide better office workspaces. [30:18] Kate shares the likely stable office- and home-based working percentages going forward. [31:35] Remote working is one choice in a palette of flexibility to give people autonomy. [33:52] Trust hindered telework taking off in 1973—leaders are babysitting, not managing by results. [34:40] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: To hire the best and the brightest,...


72: Jeffrey Shaw — Self Employment: A Popular Pathway in the New World of Work

Jeffrey Shaw has never had a traditional job. He started his entrepreneurial journey as a teen, grew a successful business for 25 years, then became a coach for those who want to be or are self-employed. Jeffrey founded the Self-Employed Business Institute and authored “The Self-Employed Life” and “Lingo”. He discusses the fundamentals and key rules of engagement for entrepreneurs that he learned along the way and how he helps people transition to self-employment and build their own businesses. From recognizing your value to finding your customers, and “deprogramming” your corporate mindset Jeffrey shares his insights for the swelling ranks of the self-employed. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:15] Jeffrey has never had a traditional job. [03:35] Started his entrepreneurial journey at 14 years old, Jeffrey wants to be independent. [04:18] Jeffrey's father's words were pivotal. [06:17] After receiving multiple awards for his photographs, Jeffrey decided to become a photographer. [06:49] Jeffrey focuses on buildings then falls in love with portrait photography on location. [07:33] At 20, Jeffrey has to make it work to support his wife and life. [08:34] Jeffrey realizes his value/offering and target audience do not match. [10:15] Jeffrey works out who his audience should be and where they are. [10:40] Three months should be all he needs to figure it out! [11:34] How to learn critical intelligence about your target audience. [12:55] A saleswoman at Bergdorf Goodman shares critical nuances about customer behavior. [14:05] Jeffrey's book “Lingo” is about his clientele’s secret language. [14:42] The power of asking questions and seeing things in others that we don't see in ourselves. [15:40] Achieving success in his business, Jeffrey decides he wants to do more. [16:25] Jeffrey discusses self-doubt and starts to pursue the idea of coaching. [18:22] Why did Jeffrey hire his first business coach at the peak of his success? [19:30] Why had the business plateaued? [20:25] After 9/11, Jeffrey thought everything was at stake. [21:33] With every major struggle that business owners go through, there is a shift in values. [24:15] Crises speed up the process of change. [25:15] Jeffrey's older clients want to transition quickly to have more freedom through self-employment. [27:29] To gather useful insights from prior experiences, Jeffrey asks what compliments people have repeatedly received throughout their life. [28:44] Most people want to set up a business to optimize what they have been doing--there's a catch. [29:38] How does Jeffrey help people shift from the corporate mindset? [30:31] The self-employment ecosystem has three components. [32:35] How Gen Z’s can pursue the self-employment. [33:34] What Jeffrey thinks the Future of Work looks like. Jeffrey encourages employees to push corporate America to offer a better way to work. [34:10] What percentage of people are solopreneurs who Jeffrey works with? [36:10] Is the cycle of contracting, over-hiring, layoffs, and re-contracting changing at last? [39:10] We shouldn't overlook the fresh perspectives and creativity that come with hiring self-employed specialists. [39:50] Jeffrey learned how to employ and questions the effort many companies put into hiring. [41:10] What it means to be self-employed, from real-estate agents to sales associates. [43:30] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: To speed up a typical 12-month transition to self-employment from a corporate job, identify your passion first and build a side gig to test it. You want to know if you have enough passion for what you want to create that’s going to keep you going and get you through the frustrations. RESOURCES Jeffrey Shaw on LinkedIn Twitter @JeffreyShaw1 Jeffrey’s websites Jeffrey’s book “The Self-Employed Life” Jeffrey’s book “Lingo” Jeffrey’s podcast “The Self-Employed...


71. Eric Ng — The Agile Mindset: Experimenting, Empowering, and Empathizing

Eric Ng, Senior VP of Marketing at Two Chairs, has an agile mindset which has enabled him to keep adapting to the significant changes brought about by technology developments in the marketing discipline—including many new channels, formats, and granular measurement tools. Eric shares insights about screening for a flexible mindset when building teams, and how trust, empowerment, and co-creation are key for nurturing growth. Eric explains how his flexible attitude has allowed him to adapt to new hybrid/remote working arrangements. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:58] Seeing the Apple 1984 commercial in grade school, Eric knew he wanted to do marketing. [03:30] At college, Eric co-founds with friends which goes well, he learns a lot when his second start-up fails completely. [05:01] Eric joins Apple’s advertising agency Chiat/Day which was a dream job for him. [06:27] Marketing is about resource allocation or figuring out how to make (increasingly informed) bets. [07:24] Flexibility is essential in an ever-changing industry—mixing testing and iterating with renewed use of broad-based ideas to drive fame. [10:02] Eric reflects on his experience building teams, and how screening for mindset is paramount. [11:27] Eric’s methodology to consolidate his team’s learning is that they must teach others in turn. [13:02] Working for a mission-oriented organization makes motivation, branding and recruiting easier. [15:30] Two Chairs offers a diverse group of therapists to serve market requirements as people’s needs and relationship with therapy evolve. [16:37] If connection with your therapist—the therapeutic alliance—is the best predictor of success, having a diverse therapist offering increases potential matches and outcomes. [19:02] The pandemic reduced mental health-related stigma along with willingness to be vulnerable. [20:12] Eric never worked remotely prior to the pandemic, but his perspective has shifted significantly. [21:05] Rethinking many aspects of work in hybrid situations, including how to recognize people’s successes. [22:18] The dial tone, a remote version of the high-five! [24:24] Meetings are important, they just need to be well thought out. [26:09] Shifting your mindset to manage distributed teams starting with trust and empowerment. [27:20] Empathy is essential to understand who each person is, what they are doing, what their needs are. [29:00] Cultivating trust requires a safe space, time to adjust, and guardrails to avoid the worst. [30:24] People do best when they can discover on their own and co-create. [32:30] Eric sees potential of simplification in the future, especially in healthcare which can be overcomplicated and confusing. [35:00] Eric asks Sophie what excites her—understanding better how we each work, how we can come together effectively as a team, and what we learned by about what we are capable of under pressure. [36:55] Technological and societal changes are bringing additional layers of diversity we can address in different ways. [40:16] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: If adapting with an agile mindset becomes overwhelming, take one small step that you haven’t taken before and explore the new experience. RESOURCES Eric Ng on LinkedIn Two Chairs website QUOTES (edited) “I think that's one of the things when you're growing where everything seems to be going well if you don't hit a roadblock, you don't grow.” “I'm hoping that the team members who are learning are also going to teach others. It gives them that opportunity to solidify the things that they're thinking about and really learn. There's nothing like teaching something in order to learn it!” “That connection with your therapist — this idea of a therapeutic alliance — is perhaps the best predictor of having successful outcomes for mental health. So if you match really well, you end up having a great outcome. I'm obviously interested in user experience as a...


70: Winston Peters — Understanding and Preparing Our Future Workforce

Winston Peters is the Program Director of the Entrepreneurs@MC program and the new Entrepreneur Center at Manhattan College in New York. He is a co-founder of WÜLF University and a Principal at MyÜberLife Consulting Group. Winston explains how he purposefully connects and builds trust with his Gen Z students starting with the first homework assignment. He teaches students the skills they want and need for entering the labor market including those not on the syllabus. Winston shares what drives and concerns Gen Z’s leaving college. He suggests how we can build bridges across generations and help each other find fulfillment at work. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:15] Winston quickly bores of building high-rises using his civil engineering degree and delves into the New York cultural scene. [03:54] Winston applies his skills differently to analyze and solve problems, wanting to make an impact. [05:00] Winston found many creatives don’t fully understand the mechanics of their business. [07:00] An engineer’s approach separates the fluff and breaks things down. [08:08] WULF university was launched to provide critical learning that students don’t typically get in the classroom to help them in their careers. [08:58] Empathy skills are needed to complement students’ competitive academic orientation so they can collaborate well in the workplace. [10:45] How does Winston shift students’ mindsets? [11:22] Looking through different lenses to develop understanding and build trust. [12:51] How Winston shows up to develop trust, engage on a personal level, and make education collaborative. [15:24] The importance of checking in and understanding how each student is (really) doing. [17:02] Setting the tone at the beginning by understanding where people’s energy is. [17:54] Human beings are judging machines based on pattern matching, and authenticity can be modeled to build a safe space. [19:15] Winston leads by example. [20:13] Winston’s compelling first homework assignment. [20:56] Asking people how they learn develops understanding and context. [23:12] The four +1 types of entrepreneurship students Winston teaches at Manhattan College. [25:08] The importance of being anti-fragile and having multiple revenue streams. [26:44] Some want corporate jobs to learn about corporate structure (for their own future venture). [27:27] Two areas Gen Z’s believe are going to be key to their future success: understanding financials and creating contacts. [29:25] Leaving college in debt, many students only explore the highest-paying jobs, not what will be fulfilling or give them security. [31:05] Many Gen Z’s are entering the workforce taking jobs to survive. [32:00] Why Winston doesn’t give extra credits in his class. [33:54] The fundamental teaching orientation for Winston is human-centric—how to solve humans’ problems and sell to them. [35:37] Winston is excited to work with students on a competition for a Blue Economy project—to convert water into reusable electricity. [36:44] How Winston effectively enforces his “no phones in class” policy! [38:24] Winston asks what students want to learn beyond the syllabus for their preferred career. [40:02] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: If you are older, have more empathy for Gen Z: the world they are growing up in is very different; they are under a lot of pressure. Ask Gen Zers deeper questions about fulfillment. There’s no job security, so how can you help each other find fulfillment and what does that look like? RESOURCES Winston Peters on LinkedIn Twitter @WinceP_ofMUL Instagram @Professor.p_ofMUL Entrepreneurs@MC at Manhattan College News about the Entrepreneur Center at Manhattan College MyÜberLife Consulting Group’s website QUOTES (edited) “The basic premise of being an engineer is being a problem solver and able to break things down into empirical forms.” “There’s no difference between hard and soft skills. Soft skills...